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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Life + Arts

Consumer Reports: Women pay more for certain products

Women spend more than men on certain products ranging from cars to anti-aging lotions.

Tod Marks of Consumer Reports said that even though two bottles of pain relievers can contain exactly the same active ingredients, the one labeled for menstrual relief frequently sells for more in certain stores.

“According to the maker, these two should be priced the same,” Marks said. “They don’t set the prices. They suggest the prices but it’s ultimately up to the retailer.”

Differences in prices for comparable products are not always without reason. A certain brand of shaving cream costs nearly twice as much for women, Marks said.

“Women, in fact, like to shave in the shower. They wanted a can that didn’t rust,” Marks said. “They wanted a can that was tall and thin. They wanted a can that wouldn’t get doused with water. So they had to make a special cap. All those things (added) to the cost (of the product).”

UH marketing administration professor Betsy Gelb spoke of an era when the price of alteration was already included. From the early to mid-1900s, women wore mostly dresses and skirts, which rarely needed altering. For men, however, alterations were often included in the price.

“One thing you can do is say, ‘I’m only going to buy this suit if you alter this at no additional cost,’” Gelb said.

During the mid-20th century, the framework for modern marketing approaches were already well in the works. In an article entitled “The Fabulous Fifties: Selling Mr. and Mrs. Consumer,”Juliann Sivulka wrote that gender-based marketing has evolved in the past century to include more than slapping on the color pink; it has to speak to the buyer. Currently, the number of household purchases, including home remodeling and hardware are well over half bought by women.

Gender-based marketing is only a fraction of what William O’Barr, a mass culture specialist professor at Duke University, calls “niche markets.” This would also include the target marketing of Latin American women, black women and gay consumers. Marketers tailor promotions and messages to potential sensitivities of a distinguishable culture.

What it all comes down to is age-old supply and demand, Gelb said. For the same reason that roses are sold more during Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, so are cinema ticket prices on Saturdays than Thursdays. Gelb, who did her dissertation on low-income marketing in Houston, talked of the significance of the opening of a Randall’s store in Midtown, because it was the first full-fledged grocery store in the area.

Convenience stores and fast food chains tend to be the go-to areas for sustenance in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status and perpetuating unhealthy eating habits.

“Sure there are bananas now, maybe apples, but the products that convenient stores supply are whatever sells, and usually at a markup,” Gelb said. “You’re buying convenience with the milk.”

During challenging financial times, browsing different aisles or checking out different stores might be worth the few extra minutes.

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